Ministry proposes $6.2 bn aid for Air India by 2017

Ministry proposes $6.2 bn aid for Air India by 2017

New Delhi: Aviation ministry proposes to provide 33,000 crore ($6.22 billion) to cash-strapped Air India by 2017 as part of the government’s 12th Five-Year Plan, according to a working group report seen by Reuters.

The report says the total debts of the country’s airlines are expected to rise to $20 billion in 2011-12 ending March as they struggle with rising oil prices, high sales taxes on jet fuel and below-cost pricing driven by fierce competition.

State-owned Air India, which is burdened with a debt of $4 billion, said on Thursday its board had approved issuing 7,500 crore worth of shares to its lenders as part of its financial restructuring. It gave no details on the exact stakes lenders may own.

A consortium of Air India’s lenders last month gave broad approval to its financial restructuring, a source previously told Reuters.

Air India is expected to account for more than half of the projected total losses of $3 billion for Indian airlines in 2011-12, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has said.

Domestic air passenger traffic is expected to grow by 12% a year until 2017, the working group report shows.

The aviation ministry also proposes to spend 17,500 crore on the development of airports, the report shows.